Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: I celebrate all levels of trailers and hopefully this column will satisfactorily give you a baseline of what beta wave I’m operating on, because what better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? Some of the best authors will tell you that writing a short story is a lot harder than writing a long one, that you have to weigh every sentence. What better medium to see how this theory plays itself out beyond that than with movie trailers?
[REC]³ Génesis Trailer
This is the kind of trailer that gets me all jolly.
Director/writer Paco Plaza has found a niche that works, and has worked for a few films. The first installment of this series garnered him some well-deserved attention and the second entry only dispelled any notion that he was a one hit wonder. The third iteration, though, almost feels like he’s playing with fire a bit but, like the Kevin Smith of found footage horror, he’s found a wheelhouse that works.
The trailer here is quite excellent and the way it sets it up that this is being brought to us by a wedding photographer adds to the realism of a movie that will hopefully build on what made the first two [REC] films such a damned delight. Again, this being a wedding, the seamless blend of shaky cam and stable camera shots helps to enhance the terror when a pretty real looking fall off a ledge starts things in motion.
Things come unglued from here and save for not knowing how the hell the groom ended up in chest plate armor and donning a sword at his side the way things devolve from this moment sink the hook right into that pleasure center of the mind that feels so good when you think of things you really want to see for yourself. Whether or not it’s going to fulfill any of the promises of a film that wants to show you what would happen if your relatives all turned into zombies it sure as hell delights me to know we’ll find out one way or the other.
I’m not sure that ending the trailer on such a silly moment as our bloodied married couple stumbles upon a family member who just finished up devouring a member in the wedding party of the opposite sex, wokka wokka, is a good way to go but it does show that the movie will have a sense of humor, however slight, about itself. Put this on the list for a film I most want to see in 2012. [Via Twitch]
Not In My Backyard Trailer
There’s an irony that when I found this trailer, I found out about a chomo who I knew by first name. The effect of finding out something like this is chilling when you think you could even be tangentially connected to a pedophile.
Director Matthias Bittner is taking the novel approach of having a film that tells a story from the perspective of former child abusers and discusses the nature of rehabilitation and what part society plays in trying to make reentry into regular life a positive one, should there be such a thing.
I found myself writhing as I sat on my hands listening to what is a very real social problem and no real good way to address it short of saying that sex offenders can live wherever they want when they get out just as long as it’s not near me. It’s a tough proposition but, like any good argument, there are people who vociferously will argue the tough side and those we see come out of the box are making their case real quick without ever telling you what it is they’re referring to.
Eventually they do talk about it directly but the positions they take, and the logistical outcomes of having the laws we do in place to handle this situation, make it so that this trailer’s design is to hammer home what is the main issue. And it’s not just one issue, it’s many issues, ranging from homelessness, rehabilitation, and whether we intrinsically believe that if you are a sex offender, and you do time because of it, that you ought to be welcomed back into society, writ large.
We see one of the men who, most likely, will be profiled and you can sense that there is a point to be had by having this discussion. I think one of the ironies is that this is coming to us from a German who is going to expose what is an inherently American problem. Most all societies have some kind of stance on the subject of sex crime but to deal with this issue head on is not only a tough proposition it’s something I want to hear out. The trailer does quick work of setting up what’s at issue here and lays out how most of these men are set up for failure as soon as they’re released.
I’m in to hear the other side.
We Are Legion: The Story Of The Hacktivists and Addiction Incorporated Trailers
With one trailer we’re tackling the subject of hacktivism and, in the other, big tobacco.
While they both are genuinely able to get at the meat of what they’re talking to talk about, these two trailers are paired because they show a difference in the level of sophistication. One’s not really better than the other, per se, but when one is being brought to you by Charles Evans Jr., one of the guys who produced Aviator and second assistant director on 1988’s Monkey Shines (how awesome is that credit?), and the other by Brian Knappenberger, an accomplished documentarian, there is an inherent level of talent coming out of both indivials.
While Evans Jr. seems more wedded to a measured, formal process and Knappenberger to a more kinetic way of telling a story, the two trailers talk about their respective subjects without wasting much time at all. I am more enthralled with the story that Knappenberger is telling only because the subject matter is so fresh and the presentation is more concerned with drilling down to why we’re having the discussion in the first place but Evans Jr.’s trailer has me on board with about 80% of the trailer. The thing about Addiction’s sell job is that it wants to dramatize smoking execs in their dingy boardroom, smoking their own product, looking bloated and above the law, and it’s really unnecessary. In fact, I would say that it undercuts the movie’s whole argument only because the talking heads that are on camera can fill that void in my mind with their words, with their taped testimony in Washington. The information they’re passing along is damning enough that I don’t need paid actors to mime out what looks like a staged, poorly, portrayal about how they designed a strategy to get people more hooked on cigarettes.
Where We Are Legion excels, then, is how close they are to the subject itself. People who have first hand knowledge of what was done and why they did it is far more interesting than seeing some b-roll of a dark room where we some kid behind a 486-DX and all you can see is their beady eyes as they operate some archaic keyboard and mouse contraption. We are 1:1 with the players in this game and it’s riveting to watch them emote as they talk about what it is they believe and what their thoughts are on matters that seem to be out of our own control. Its frightening to see so many people disguised behind Guy Fawkes masks talking about the havoc they’re looking to unleash but when the oppressors are allowed carte blanche their candor in speaking out is enlightening. [Via Twitch]
Gregory Kohn needs to be very thankful to the editor of this trailer.
What I love about seeing trailers like this is that it is so spare, so minimalist that it never once strays into navel gazing territory. At first I feared that we would just get relentlessly pounded with dialogue as the movie depicts this cad who is into the ladies. No, instead we get just enough of a setup to say, “This is Will, he loves the ladies, ladies love this guy’s junk, he’s probably going to be playing both throughout the movie but we’re not saying for sure. Enjoy.”
It’s bold and it’s risky as we get a lot of silent moments after the dialogue heavy, so to speak, first quarter as we move entirely into territory where it’s just about observation. I don’t ever feel cheated or sense a lack of information here because I get what it’s going for. You don’t see many trailers opting to just set a story in motion with just the skeleton of the story but without generating any drama or unique selling propositions you’re essentially selling a movie that’s not selling at all.
I appreciate, though, what seems to be a tale of a man who loves too many ladies but even if he never gets his comeuppance it’s of little interest to me anyway as I think this trailer already won me over with its indelible charm. Damn you, Will, you even got me.
Black & White Episode 1: The Dawn of Assault Trailer
This is a man who is bringing back the old school Lethal Weapon vibe back to the small screen and I dig it. I mean, there is no way I can defend something that looks so played out, more so when you have the whole police commander disciplining the “rogue cop” who just can’t follow the rules because he’s such a head case, and so cheesy but this looks like a ton of fun.
Apart from the flashy car that would usually be a Ferrari in any other Hollywood production looking like it was gifted by a 16 year-old girl (Is that a Jetta they’re riding in?) there is nothing really original about this production that stands out. However, it’s the execution that has my attention and, I think, warrants a look.
While it’s pretty damn bold to have one of your set pieces (around the 1:2o mark) being an airliner careening into the side of a skyscraper, I like the nostalgia factor that’s generated by the dozens of explosions and shoot-outs that this cop and his partner are involved with. It borders on the absurd with all the silliness that is going on but I can’t fault this trailer for having a great tempo and a nice pace at which they’re getting to all the money shots. It’s low on pomposity but high on fun. When you consider all the Oscar bait that’s out there it’s nice to know that there is some other chum in the water that could prove to be an excellent diversion. [Via Twitch]
Nota bene: If you have any suggestions of trailers to possibly be included in this column, even have a trailer of your own to pitch, please let me know by sending me a note at Christopher_Stipp@yahoo.com
In case you missed them, here are the other trailers we covered at /Film this week:
- Salmon Fishing in the Yemen Trailer – Gentlemen, I present to you the first movie you’ll be dragged to, kicking and screaming no doubt, in 2012 by your significant others. This trailer raised my blood sugar levels with how saccharine and full of empty calories it was.
- Casa de mi Padre Trailer – I don’t think the joke can sustain itself and this trailer doesn’t give me much hope that it can overcome what seems like one long sketch.
- The Dark Knight Rises Trailer – Yup, consider my deep well primed.
- Wrath of the Titans Trailer – After the less than overwhelming first entry, I’m surprised that this trailer has me curious enough to consider this entry’s merits. But, please, can we declare a moratorium on Marilyn Manson’s “Sweet Dreams” in trailers?
- The Avengers German Trailer – Solange gibt es Non-Stop-Aktion, wie dieser Trailer vermuten lässt, bin ich in.
- 21 Jump Street Trailer – Didn’t I already see this? Yeah, I did, and I still don’t want to see it.
- The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Trailer – This is just unfair. 12 months before I see the dream realized? This tease borders on cruelty.
- This Must Be The Place Trailer – I wasn’t expecting much but this really surprised me with how well it sells the story and the seriousness with which it sets things up.
- Prometheus Trailer – This could be an early contender for my Roland Emmerich Award For Best Fakeout if this trailer is selling a movie that isn’t there but I’ll err on the side that this could be the one of the best sci-fi events of 2012.
- Game Change Trailer – This being on HBO means you can’t beat the price to see it and certainly the trailer does a bang up job with what little time they used.
- Goon Trailer – While not as sharp as the red band trailer, this still gives me more than enough reasons about why I need to see it.
- Bel Ami Trailer – Looks like a sleepy drama that does a wretched job in trying to sell me on its importance.